THE ROUND TABLE
and the WHEEL OF LIFE
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The 'Wheel of Life' or ' Zoe diac' of the ancients was not originally conceived as a device for foretelling the future, but rather as a symbolic illustration of life's endless cycle as it relates to the human condition.
Sparked from formless chaos, life has crystalised into an infinite variety of forms; each new life cycle a minute step towards design perfection. Both the plant and animal worlds illustrate the process. It has formed the basis of Darwin's theory of Natural Selection.
However, long before Darwin was born there were philosophers who anticipated his insight by projecting the evolutionary process into the domain of the human psyche. Their zodiac was, in effect, a poetic illustration of the same refining activity carried forward into the realms of the human spirit. And they were not alone. All the world's religions base their creeds on the assumption that man can improve himself by his own efforts. Life's movement is towards design perfection and we all have the power to tune ourselves more into harmony with its benevolent direction; to go with the flow. Our stay here is pitifully short and we dissemble back into formlessness when our life cycle comes to an end. Nevertheless, whether for good or ill, some essence remains tempered and shaped by our conduct on life's journey.
These are abstract ideas and difficult to grasp without personal examples so, in this instance, we can use the Knights of King Arthur's Round Table to highlight some of the problems we all must face in our journey round 'The Wheel of Life' And Arthur's knights adapt beautifully to the concept for the adventures of each one serves to symbolise the sort of difficulties we must all overcome along the way. Lionel, for example, demonstrates the folly of anger, Modred the corrosive effects of bitterness, Kay the pointlessness of envy, Ector the virtue of prudence, Tristan the supremacy of love, and so on.
Although we all begin life's journey at different points on the Wheel, this illustration assumes that we are born under Pisces and will move from there into Aries.
In biblical terms then, we are cast out from our unconscious Eden only to fall headlong into the conflicting passions of earthly life. Plato pictured the soul as falling into material existence and having to find its salvation by returning along the same circular path. Thus, although our voyage may begin in Leo or Capricorn or at any other point on the 'Wheel', our stay will not be confined to that particular star sign but will move through them all in sequence.
Symbolically then, we descend anti-clockwise round the Wheel. The first six signs represent materialisation moving towards spiritualisation in the second half of the cycle. Physical consciousness, egotism, emotional sensitivity, individuality, all forming more strongly with each phase, as life continually presents us with new challenges. On the far side of the Wheel we will pass through Virgo and begin our re-ascent towards the Spirit. In our troubled quest for perfection we are borne inexorably towards this life's end, now shedding preoccupation with material things and, hopefully, like Perceval, gaining some spiritual awareness as we progress. At length we come full circle as we re- enter the heavenly mansion of our beginning where, like Galahad, we might leave the Wheel forever or, like Lancelot, fall short and have to begin the whole journey again.